The Library Joins the Center for Research Libraries
This past summer, the Boston College Libraries became a full member of the Center for Research Libraries, an international consortium of research libraries which has developed an extraordinary resource for scholars and students of member institutions. CRL's main purpose is to provide research materials and services not easily available from anywhere else. Its collections have been built over the past six decades through a collaborative effort by subject area experts at member institutions and by researchers requesting hard-to-obtain material from around the world. The types of resources include dissertations, journals, newspapers, pamphlets, music scores, photographs, and archives, among others. Here are some examples:
- More than 35 historical Latin American newspapers in digital format published between 1805 and 1922. (More information)
- Digitized pamphlets and periodicals from the French Revolution of 1848. (More information)
- More than 800,000 doctoral dissertations and Habilitationsschriften from universities outside of the U.S. and Canada. (More information)
- Materials produced in the United States and international resources related to water conservation, watershed development policies, and water quality. (More information)
- Records of official tribunals, courts, truth commissions, and investigations of human rights violations. (More information)
- 43 microfilm reels of Sir Isaac Newton's manuscripts and papers. (CRL Catalog record)
- Collection of photographs on 35 microfilm reels from the Agence Meurisse news agency consisting of 34,518 images organized in chronological order from 1909-1937, evoking the immediacy of events spanning the first half of 20th-century Europe. (CRL Catalog record)
- Papers of the NAACP dealing with the Scottsboro case, 1931-1950. These include legal files, newspaper clippings, and correspondence among the NAACP, the International Labor Defense, and the Scottsboro Defense Committee, as well as with numerous private individuals and other organizations (microfilm). (CRL Catalog record)
- Music collection of Christ Church, Oxford including unpublished manuscripts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries of about 1,200 pieces of sacred, secular, instrumental and vocal music (60 microfilm reels). (More information)
- TRAIL - Technical Report Archive & Image Library: Digitized federally funded technical reports issued before 1975. Space exploration, alternative energy sources, nuclear reactors, mining, and water purification are among the topics in more than 20,000 documents summarizing engineering and regulatory investigations. (More information)
Finding CRL material
There are several ways of searching this treasure trove of information.
- Use the CRL Catalog. Its Simple Keyword Search page includes a list of helpful Search Tips and a link to the Advanced Keyword Search page.
- Use WorldCat Local and limit your search to the Center for Research Libraries, an option in the drop down menu on the basic search screen or in the drop down menu in the Narrow Your Search / Library section of the advanced search mode.
- Browse the Collections portion of the CRL website, especially the Digital Collections and Topic Guides sections.
Also, in the near future, CRL records for its collections' digital resources will be added to Holmes, the online catalog for Boston College.
Getting CRL material
Once a potentially useful dissertation, microfilm set, serial volume, monograph, or other physical item is identified, members of the BC community can request it through Interlibrary Loan. One advantage in using WorldCat Local is that it includes links to the interlibrary loan form, thereby facilitating the request process. While there is no formal loan period (!), CRL materials are subject to being recalled.
CRL as research partner
The advantages of membership extend beyond access to CRL's collections. Librarians and scholars can recommend purchases, request a research consultation, recommend items for digitization, and participate in webinars focusing on particular research collection areas. CRL has collaborated on numerous collection building projects, for example:
- The Cooperative African Newspaper Project and its online union list of newspapers published in sub-Saharan Africa.
- The Collaborative Initiative for French Language Collections and its various efforts to support the development of new online resources like the Digital Library of the Caribbean. (This particular project is a good example of a CRL-related project in the process of starting up and recruiting volunteer experts)
- The Slavic and East European Microform Project (SEEMP) with its microform sets of hard-to-get newspapers, books, periodicals, pamphlets, and manuscripts.
CRL has also been a boon to librarians who are considering the purchase of expensive electronic resources. By providing in-depth analyses, CRL helps librarians assess major databases and digital collections being produced by commercial publishers and other sources. It also issues reports on important digital preservation programs and services, an activity increasingly vital to the future of the scholarly record given the greater and greater use of the digital format in publishing.
And there's still more...
Given the scope of all that CRL offers, the best introduction would be a leisurely visit to its website. Take the time to explore the site's numerous sections, pages, and links. The CRL is a dynamic organization, and it produces its own online publications to keep researchers informed of its various activities with its newsletter, FOCUS, and e-mail update, CRL Connect. Collection building is at the heart of what it does, and forums about this activity are offered periodically in various formats: webinars, teleconferences, and roundtables. Last, but certainly not least, scholars from member libraries can visit CRL in its Chicago facility and make on-site use of its resources.
If you have any questions about CRL, please don't hesitate to contact your Subject Librarian.